Forecasts get better at Pagasa

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MANILA, Philippines—Forecasting the weather for any part of the country will now be faster and more accurate with the latest state-of-the-art tools that enable forecasting workstations to come up with localized predictions across five regions, the chief meteorologist said on Thursday.

Administrator Nathaniel Servando of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said the agency was also a step closer to doing all-automated mapping of weather indicators in the five regions, which would result in the quicker dissemination of disaster warnings.

Servando on Thursday presided over the soft launch of the Forecaster Workstations, which use one of the most advanced automated systems that allow for analysis of various weather parameters with one computer program.

“We will maintain the issuance of forecasts at the national level, but we will equip five regional stations with the workstation that will be responsible for providing specific area forecasts within their jurisdiction,” he told a press briefing.

“For example, in Legazpi City, in just one hour they can issue advisories on rainfall or flooding… they can give forecasts for specific areas, what time the rains would fall, identify hazards from thunderstorms such as lightning, hail and so on,” he said.

Servando said the tools would allow the Pagasa regional stations to fill some of the gaps in the central forecasting systems.

The five stations are in Tuguegarao City in northern Luzon; Legazpi City in southern Luzon; Mactan, Cebu, in the Visayas; El Salvador, Misamis Oriental, in Mindanao; and the National Forecasting Station in Metro Manila.

“We have started making localized forecasts, like in Legazpi. The rainfall warning system we introduced in Metro Manila recently became operational in Legazpi and Mindanao. The Visayas also started forecasts focused on the provinces there, including the probability of rainfall occurrence,” he said.

Servando said Pagasa was getting closer to the level of weather forecasting in more advanced countries, which rely on automated mapping systems.

“Slowly we will phase out the manual analysis of weather models, like what is being done in other countries,” he said.

In the Forecaster Workstation, weathermen can directly access information from radar, satellites, automated weather systems and other sources, enabling them to interpret the data and process it into accurate localized forecasts.

“It has all the important ingredients for coming up with a more accurate forecast. It’s user-friendly. It can show the movement of a weather system, measure the distance relative to a specific location—how strong, how big and which areas are likely to be affected,” he said.

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